BAFTA has celebrated the number of older white women nominated for best actress at its Television Awards amid a steep decline in ethnic diversity in performance shortlists.
All six nominees in the Leading Actress category are white and have been nominated for BAFTAs across film and TV multiple times in the past.
Asked if BAFTA had hoped for a different outcome, CEO Jane Millichip said: “There is representation in that category in the fact that if you look at the age of the actresses and the roles written for them, it is extraordinary. This is something that we’ve discussed for a long time in the television and film world: Are the roles written for women over the age of 40? That is a really impressive result.”
BAFTA later clarified that Millichip was referring to “representation” for older women as a separate issue from diversity, which it considers to relate to ethnicity and socio-economic background among other factors.
Imelda Staunton (aged 67) has been nominated for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. Other nominees include Kate Winslet (47) for I Am Ruth, Billie Piper (40) for I Hate Suzie Too, Maxine Peake (48) for Anne, Sarah Lancashire (58) for Julia, and Vicky McClure (39) for Without Sin.
All six actresses are BAFTA favourites. Staunton won a BAFTA in 2005 and has been nominated three other times; Winslett has three wins and five previous nominations; Lancashire has two wins and three other nominations; McClure has one win and two previous noms; Peake has two previous nominations; Piper also has two performance noms.
Sara Putt, deputy chair of BAFTA and Chair of the Television Committee, said all the female nominees are “well deserving” of their place on the shortlist.
Some observed that Ambika Mod had been overlooked for her performance in BBC/AMC series This Is Going To Hurt, which is leading the chase for a bronze mask with a total of six nominations.
Mod has been nominated for Supporting Actor at the Royal Television Society Awards, while the Broadcasting Press Guild nominated her for Best Actress.
Deadline understands she was put forward for Supporting Actress rather than Leading Actress at the BAFTAs. There are three women of colour nominated in the Supporting Actress category: Adelayo Adedayo (The Responder), Jasmine Jobson (Top Boy), and Saffron Hocking (Top Boy).
Her absence comes amid a wider fall in ethnic diversity in performance categories at the BAFTA Television Awards. More than 40% of the nominees have been from ethnic backgrounds in the past two years, but this dropped to 24% this year. BAFTA said this was in line with industry benchmarks and above the national population breakdown in the 2021 census.
Putt said: “We are part of an ecosystem and we sit at the end of that pipeline. Our awards are a barometer of what’s going on in the industry… We will take the data and statistics from this year’s awards — nominations and winners — and that will form part of our conversations about what we do next year. It’s an ongoing conversation.”
She added: “What I’m very pleased around is the interventions we put in place last year; we have far better female representation around craft awards, with directors, more female technicians, 50/50 gender representation in the entertainment performance category.”
The drop in ethnic diversity follows concern over the BAFTA Film Awards, when 47 of the 49 winners were white. The only Black star onstage was co-host Alison Hammond.